Reading Update: November and Early December 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Remember what I said about reading A LOT less lately? Well, it's true...Over the course of the last few months I've only finished four books. I'm not sure if I forgot to write something down, but I think I've just been taking my sweet time. The good news is that each one of them is rave worthy!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - This is the Jane Austen book that I never planned to read. I've been attending my youngest brother's Omnibus class (most of the time) and one week Carrie mentioned Fanny Price. She doesn't like Fanny at all, but her description of her convinced me that I might and that I HAD to read this book. I put a few other books aside in order to dig right into this one. It's now POSSIBLY, my favorite piece of Austen's work. I still REALLY like Persuasion, so it might be a tie. I have a lot I could say, but I'll leave you with this: This story is hilarious, heart breaking, and full of wisdom that extends from Austen's era right up to our own. If you've never read it, you must!

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser - This was our book club pick for November and it's another book I have LOVED recently. I'm still thinking about it and the lessons it taught me. It tells the story of the South in a way that is reminiscent of The Help (another of my favorite books). BUT, there is something about this book that sets it apart. This book will challenge the way you think, feel, live, and respond to the hard things we face in life. It's set in Atlanta and there is a real Swan House that you can visit. So....What are you waiting for?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - This was probably my third time reading book number one. I enjoyed it, but I also know that it's not going to be my favorite. The thing about first books is that soooooo much of the "plot" centers around laying the ground work for the readers. It's the perfect length to get you "into" the world of HP, but short enough not to bog you down. Reading it this time around gave me an appreciation for Hagrid as well as an understanding of Rowling's influence on my brothers' writing styles. I also finally understand the different houses!!! Pottermore sorted me into Hufflepuff, but I'm 100% Ravenclaw.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling -This was also a re-read for me. When I read the first three, it was my FAVORITE. Reading it again reminded me why! If you click on the title you can read my full goodreads review (which has a few "spoilers"). The most important thing is that:  I loved it just as much this time around as I did last time. I got more out of it and enjoyed parts of it as though I had never read them before. 

Now, I have a few questions for you!

Have you read any of these books?

Which Austen is your favorite?

Is there an era of historical fiction that you tend to gravitate towards?

What's one book that's stuck with you for months at a time?

Which house are you in (have you been "re-sorted" at the "new" site)?

Which HP is your favorite? 

5 More Things About Me pt. 4

Friday, December 23, 2016

December 4, 2010

I < 3 NYC. I don't care how cliche it is to say so because this city is my favorite. I spent one day there back in December of 2010 and found that it was everything I hoped it would be. I think about it almost constantly this time of year.

Aside from the occasional crop, slight adjustment, or a quick black and white or sepia toned filter, I don't edit my photos. What you see is straight from the camera. It's amazing what people can accomplish with photo editing software (I'm looking at you, Amy and Rach), but I just don't do it. When people talk about alllll the time they spend editing, I can't sympathize because I honestly have no idea as to where to even begin.

I think of "my style" as preppy/classic. The truth is, if you stopped by my house on any given day you would find me in jeans and a tshirt OR some kind of horribly tacky pants that are super comfy and a tshirt. The ensemble will always match, but you may cringe at the sight.

I know what people drive. In our old town, my Mom and I used to play this game where I would try to guess who was going to be in the grocery store based on the cars in the parking lot. I was SURE this would be a hopeless cause in our new city, but I've already started saying, "That was so and so." OR "Oh! So and so is in that store over there." When I see certain cars, I still think of the people that drove the same one in my old town and get excited for a split second before I remember that it's not theirs and that it can't be theirs.

I went to public school until I was in 8th grade. I was homeschooled from that point on and dream of homeschooling my own children someday, should I have them. I love talking education. Veteran teachers (homeschooling or otherwise) are some of my favorite people to talk to.

What don't I know about you? 

It Was Snowing

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Another post I drafted on December 9th. I've got a few coming your way! 

The other day I went to pick my Mom up from work. I went in to let her know that I had arrived only to learn that it was going to be a while before she could leave. In the few minutes that I was in the store, a little mini snow storm blew in. I stepped out onto the sidewalk and immediately took up my "it's snowing" stance. I looks like slower, surer steps, chin tilted down, hands crammed into pockets, and rounded shoulders. I think I may have even muttered something sarcastic to myself. I don't mind snow, but I do not want to get caught out in it. I started my trudge to the car when a sound of absolute glee caught my attention.

I looked toward where the sound was coming from to see a little girl and her Mom. The little girl was looking up into the sky beaming. She had her hands out and her glee had turned into sheer awe. I paused and my "it's snowing" stance melted away into a smile and a laugh. All of a sudden, my memories of those same feelings came flooding back. The Mom had stopped walking and was beaming right along with her daughter. Only, she wasn't delighting in the snow. She was delighting in her daughter. In that moment, there was no hurry. The little girl was completely taken with the flakes falling all around her. The Mom was happy to let her take her time. And I was content to watch.

The last thing I heard before I got into my car was the little girl say, "I love snow." To which the Mom replied, "Yes, you do love snow, don't you?"

The whole exchanged lasted less than a single minute before we all picked back up where we left off. They made their way into the store and I got into my car. Th snow kept coming down and I saw it for the beauty that it was. I sat there waiting for my own Mom thinking about the joy children bring. They remind us to see things the way they're meant to be seen. They remind us that there is no hurry and that life is better when we take our time.

It was snowing and they weren't in a hurry. After that, neither was I.

Christmas Survey 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December 18, 2014
Last year, I came across this post on Skylar's blog and immediately took the time to copy down the questions with plans to answer them this year! Feel free to copy them and answer them on your blog. If you do, be sure to let me know because I'd love to read your answers!

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I am terrible at wrapping gifts. That said, I appreciate and prefer wrapping paper!

Real tree or artificial?
We haven't done a tree at all since 2010. If I was going to have one, it would be real.

When do you put up the tree?
We normally got the tree the first week in December and then let it rest in the garage for most of a week.

Hardest person to buy for?
The person that I don't have any ideas for. There isn't one person in particular that this is always true of. I tend to be pretty good at coming up with gift ideas, but occasionally, I will be STUMPED.

Easiest person to buy for?
My Mom. I also always have one million ideas for my sister.

Favorite Christmas film?
Oh, this is HARD. I'll choose Holiday Affair.

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
I love it when we do a cold cut buffet for Christmas. In the past I've made broccoli salad and Trish's Bean Dip to go with it.  This goes soooo well with the endless board games and movie nights and lazing around that Christmas vacation brings.

Snow: love it or hate it?
As long as there's no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Colorful or clear lights on the tree?

Favorite Christmas song?
This year? Christmas Night in Harlem. Usually? God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen or Oh Holy Night.

Do you celebrate Advent?
YES!!! It's my favorite thing about Christmas.

Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Stay home. 

Favorite Christmas cookie?
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I used to be sooooooo afraid of them, but then I made them and now I love them.

Favorite Christmas tradition?
Advent and Epiphany. On Epiphany we have atiyfs for breakfast, open the presents from our parents, and have a Middle Eastern feast.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning.

Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The cold? Other than that, I wouldn't change a single thing.

What is the “sil­li­est” fam­ily tra­di­tion you do, or miss doing?
I don't think we have any silly traditions. Do we?

What do you want for Christmas this year?
I need some new sneakers. There are a few books, movies, and cds that I'd like. Reach Records always has a Christmas sale which makes me nostalgic over t-shirts. I'm getting old because there's a face lotion that I love but that's a little $$$, so I'd be quite happy to unwrap a new bottle of it.

What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
All of them! I'm excited that my sister is home this year. I wish my brother could be here and that Ron and Julie and Jay would come over like old times. Our decorations are still in storage, so I only have the "extra" garlands and lights to hang. I look forward to Christmas as we know it sometime SOON.

I'd love to hear your answers! Feel free to make a post of your own this week. :) 

Advent 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

December 10, 2016
I picked Andrew Murray's "Waiting on God" back up the other day. I made it less than halfway through last year's Advent readings and wouldn't you know it...When I finally got myself together this year, it was right where I left off last year. Man plans his way, but God established his steps. It gets even better. Not only did I pick up where I left off, but the first day's reading dealt with themes that I've been wrestling with lately (faith, being taught by God, and even the balance between sin and repentance).

When I read the verse that went with the day's essay, I knew that this was exactly how it was supposed to have happened. I rarely get discouraged about not being able to finish something becaues I am a firm beleiver in the fact that I will finish it when  the time is right. This goes for silly things and important things. I'm happy to take my time.

I've been going to a new Bible study and I've got mixed feelings about it. I'll be honest. I take theology very seriously. I have come to learn that this is rare. Studying the Bible with other believers has taught me that very few people are eager or have put the time into thinking for themselves. So, I go to this Bible study which seems to be non-denominational and I've heard some pretty typical comments. Everything from the KJV only debate, to thoughts on salvation, and of course, the man-centered theology that misses the actual meaning behind every Biblical text has come up so far. Bad theology, especially from people who should know better, gets me every single time.

The last meeting was about faith and especially the faith of Gideon. I'm not going to get into what was said, because that's not the point. The point is, I was wrestling with what was said and God saw fit to clarify the matter using His Word, Murray's old booklet, and an unrest in my spirit. He also threw in a line about how He teaches His people for good measure.

What have you been wrestling with lately? 

Are there in themes that God has brought to your attention?

On My Mind

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 9, 2016
I drafted this post back on December 9th. Everything I wrote is still true, so I'm leaving it here for you to read. Well, everything except, the snow has continued off and on since then and we're up to nearly a foot of snow. :) 

The first real snow is coming down outside. We're on a "winter storm watch" which basically means all of the kids are EXCITED. I dropped the van off to get the snow tires put on earlier this morning, so I'm okay with it. Settle in with a cup of something warm and let's chat...

I've been doing so little reading and writing lately that I almost don't feel like myself. What's something that's such a huge part of who you are that pushing it aside affects you? It's definitely reading and writing for me. I've even attempted to carve out time to go to the library so that I can sit down at a clean table and just WRITE by the big windows. That's another thing...I'm not one of those people who plunks down in a coffee shop or restaurant or library to do something like that, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Going non-stop has me celebrating any day without any place to be. Apparently I need to stop getting so excited. Each time I've had one, SOMETHING comes up.

We made it through tech-week!!!! My Mom and I are in charge of props for my brother and sister's current show. We've done a lot of tasks over the years. This is a first. I was super nervous about it, but I think I may have found my "thing". We'll see how it goes during an actual show. Last night, I actually dreamed about not being able to find something. I couldn't figure out what I couldn't find and I couldn't remember the person's name that needed it.

I've been rejoicing in the fact that God answers prayers. Dwelling on this truth has been so good for my soul!!!! I've got a list of things that I'm praying for. It reminds me to check back with people and to praise God for the ways He responds.

While I did pick up my Advent study (I'm finishing the one I started last year), I haven't put up the Christmas decorations, mailed my Christmas cards, or bought a single present. It's nearly the middle of December. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for!

What's on your mind?